Walter Fähndrich – Musik für Raüme (Giannozzo)

Walter Fähndrich – Musik für Raüme cassette front cover
Walter Fähndrich – Musik für Raüme cassette back cover
Walter Fähndrich – Musik für Raüme cassette side A

Teaching improvisation at the Musikhochschule in Basel since 1985, Swiss composer and sound artist Walter Fähndrich (b. 1944) is both a professional viola player performing in chamber ensembles (see here) and a composer interested in various genres like stage and film music, electroacoustic music or Hörspiel (see official website). Since 1980, Fähndrich has explored room frequency resonances through a series of sound installations in art galleries, specific architectural sites and even outdoor venues (like Music for a Quarry, 1999; see info/video). Titled Musik für Räume, or music for spaces, these sound installations use simple electronic tonalites whose pitch is determined by the room’s dimensions and resonance properties. The music is meant to excite room resonances and thus achieve the sonification of architectural spaces. Several exhibition catalogs with CDs were published about Fähndrich’s Musik für Räume, so it is possible the music on this cassette has already been digitized and made available.

Galerie Giannozzo in the 1980s, Charlottenburg, Berlin

Published in 1985 by Edition Giannozzo, this cassette was the first to document Musik für Räume as a standalone soundtrack. Founded in 1978 by sculptor and musician Rolf Langebartels, Galerie Giannozzo was a two-storey gallery in Berlin Charlottenburg, with monthly exhibitions by artists like Rolf Julius, Takehisa Kosugi, Akio Suzuki or Christina Kubisch, until it closed doors in 1986. On show in the gallery during November 1985, Fähndrich’s sound installation consisted in the sonification of both storeys with sounds deduced from the galleries’ proportions. For instance, and if I understand the liner notes correctily, the upper room’s length of 720 cm corresponds to a frequency of 47.6 Hz. Of course, these electronic sounds are meant to be heard in the Giannozzo gallery only, but, on their own, they function as a wonderful musique d’ameublement, or discreet music in English.

01 Räume Giannozzo VI (23:28)
02 Räume Giannozzo VII (23:28)

Total time 46:56
Cassette released by Edition Giannozzo, Berlin, 1985

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4 Responses to “Walter Fähndrich – Musik für Raüme (Giannozzo)”


  1. 1 uair01 May 11, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Thanks! This is exactly the inspiration I’m looking for. I’m trying to sonify geometric shapes.

  2. 2 continuo May 11, 2012 at 8:30 am

    This discipline seems to be the specialty of German artists and maybe the ultimate inspiration of Bernhard Leitner, Christina Kubisch, Rolf Julius et al. is to be found in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s quote: Ich die Baukunst eine erstarrte Musik nenne (I call architecture frozen music), from Gespräche mit Goethe, known as Conversations with Eckerman, 1836. This might be the origin of the intensive use of geometry and architecture in German sound art in the 20th century. German children learn this at school, of course.
    Xenakis is said to have reversed the sentence into “Music is mobile architecture.”

  3. 3 -sto May 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    just to complete the quote, it was actuallay on march 23rd, 1829, where it says in eckerman’s “gespräche mit goethe”:
    „Ich habe unter meinen Papieren ein Blatt gefunden,“ sagte Goethe, „wo ich die Baukunst eine erstarrte Musik nenne. Und wirklich, es hat etwas; die Stimmung, die von der Baukunst ausgeht, kommt dem Effekt der Musik nahe.“
    and he was not the first german to think that, philosopher friedrich wilhelm joseph schelling coined achitecture as “erstarrte musik” already in 1803, in his lecture “philosophie der kunst”.

    to be politically correct one might be reluctant to call a swiss composer a “german artist” :-)

  4. 4 continuo May 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Fähndrich’s mother tongue is German and his work is typically German. He belongs to the Klangkunst philiosphy/movement of artists.


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